What is independent living?

An independent living community, also known as a retirement home or senior housing community can best be described as a community for active, healthy seniors who need little or no assistance with activities of daily living. Residents are often 55 and above and enjoy the multiple amenities and services which are offered in this community setting. Amenities can include recreational centers, group meals, transportation, clubhouses, fitness clubs, and even golf courses.

Independent living communities come in all different shapes and sizes and may be a home, villa, townhouse, condo, or mobile home. Some communities offer land sales for new-construction homes. In general, this form of housing is easier on the individual by eliminating maintenance responsibilities and offering various amenities in one single place.

Other common names for independent living include:

  • Retirement homes or retirement communities
  • 55+/active adult communities
  • Senior apartments or senior housing
  • Continuing care retirement communities
  • Low-income or subsidized senior housing

Payment Options

A significant portion of independent living costs are private pay, meaning residents pay out of pocket through proceeds from home sales, pension or retirement funds, or long-term care insurance.  According to Genworth.com, the base monthly rate of independent living ranges from $1,500 to $5,000.

Residence in a independent living community takes several forms which may include renting or even buying. Therefore, consumers should budget appropriately because costs may vary based on the residents’ services and care needs.

In some states, low-income or subsidized senior housing can be considered independent living. Waiting lists for these communities can be long and eligibility varies state to state.

Taking a Closer Look at Independent Living: AARP Blog

HelpGuide.Org: Independent Living for Seniors: Non-profit resource guide for understanding independent living

Costs and How to Pay – LongTermCare.gov: A guide to how to pay for long-term care, including long-term care insurance, personal income and savings, life insurance, annuities and reverse mortgages. (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)